Blog Archives

Teeming Links – June 27, 2014

FireHead

Beware the man who has more influence on the future of reading than anybody else in the world: Jeff Bezos is simultaneously a visionary, an innovator, and a destroyer.

Pro Publica explains why online tracking is getting creepier. (Hint: It has to do with the merging of all the mountains of online and offline data about you.)

Meanwhile, Facebook has recently announced that it will start tracking users across the Internet using its widgets such as the “Like” button,” and it won’t honor do-not-track browser settings.

Helpfully, Pro Publica offers an illuminating look at Facebook’s complicated history of tracking you.

Feeling more antsy and irritable lately? Nicholas Carr says blame smartphones, which are turning us into patient and irritable monsters: “Society’s ‘activity rhythm’ has never been so harried. Impatience is a contagion spread from gadget to gadget.”

The Wall Street Journal briefly reports on Americans who choose to live without cellphones.

William Deresiewicz warns against uncritically buying into the apocalyptic rhetoric about the state of higher education, much of which comes from profit-minded billionaires who want to remake college for their own purposes: “The truth is, there are powerful forces at work in our society that are actively hostile to the college ideal. That distrust critical thinking and deny the proposition that democracy necessitates an educated citizenry. That have no use for larger social purposes. That decline to recognize the worth of that which can’t be bought or sold. Above all, that reject the view that higher education is a basic human right.”

A new survey of all 7 billion humans on planet earth — conducted by The Onion — finds that we’re surprised we still haven’t figured out an alternative to letting power-hungry assholes decide everything.

Two_Draculas-Bela_and_Vlad

On Point presents a 45-minute conversation about the deep and perennial fascination of Dracula in history, myth, and literature:

There is something about biting and blood that we never get over. Luis Suarez and his bite debated round the world in the World Cup. Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and the Victorian tale of castles and darkness that we still feel at our throats. That story has had amazing staying power. “I want to suck your blood!” and all the rest. Built off the story of Transylvania’s real Vlad the Impaler. Back to Europe’s long struggle with the Turkish caliphate. The story never dies. This hour On Point: the history and myth of literature’s great vampire — Dracula.

Historian Tim Stanley explains how Slender Man is a strongly Lovecraftian myth that became a violent reality.

E. Antony Gray gives a brief introduction to egregores and explains how Slender Man is a non-abstract and positively Lovecraftian example.

Writer, artist, and photographer Karen Emslie writes from first-person experience about the terror — and bliss — of sleep paralysis (while holding to a reductive neurobiological understanding of the phenomenon): “[S]leep paralysis has naturally spawned some very scary stories and films. But as a writer and filmmaker as well as a long-time percipient, I have another story to tell. Beyond the sheer terror, sleep paralysis can open a doorway to thrilling, extraordinary, and quite enjoyable altered states.”

(Note: I have personally never experienced the bliss of SP. For me it has always been pure, overwhelming, transformative horror.)

 

“Fire Head” image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono / FreeDigitalPhotos.net. Bela Lugosi as 1931 Dracula by Anonymous (Universal Studios) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons. Vlad Tepes by anonymous artist (Unknown) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

Deep Shadows and Numinous Horror: Introducing “Echoes from Hades”

The question of whether I found Horror or Horror found me is a longstanding one, and despite much contemplation, I’m no closer to a definitive answer.  Perhaps there isn’t one to be had.  Either way, Horror unquestionably crept into my world early, and with indelible power.

My name is Richard Gavin. I am a Canadian author of supernatural Horror fiction, and although this has been my vocation for the better part of two decades, my relationship with Horror stretches further still, reaching back to my formative years. Given my novice status here at The Teeming Brain, I thought it best to use this initial installment of Echoes from Hades as a form of introduction to this background and my outlook on such things.

One of my initial memories of movies was seeing Tod Browning’s 1931 version of Dracula on afternoon television.  The film’s impact on me was immediate and dramatic.  Monsters and the macabre swiftly became a constant in my life.  And unlike so many passions that erupt in one’s childhood, Horror never lost its lustre for me.

I do not believe I’m being dishonest when I say that my young mind intuited, albeit vaguely, that there was something grand about Horror, something important.  The whole field felt akin to an iceberg: its true significance was submerged, seething somewhere beneath its latex make-ups and Gothic prose. Read the rest of this entry

Recommended Reading 15

This week’s recommended articles and essays (and videos) include: the political battle behind climate science research; the rising push for a future where urban infrastructure is relocated underground; a look at Wal-Mart’s destructive effect on America’s middle class; the alteration of reading, writing, and publishing by the snooping technology that accompanies e-books; a brilliant, long essay by Theodore Roszak about the musical and psychedelic cultural streams that gave birth to today’s cyberpunkish utopia/dystopia of a computer-permeated civilization; an essay about America’s dangerous social experiment in raising galactically spoiled and lazy kids; interesting speculations about the relationship between Walt Whitman, Frankenstein, and Dracula; the use of infrasound for military purposes and to create perceived supernatural manifestations; a consideration of the relationship between movies and consciousness as informed by Inception; and a report on a new survey showing that a majority of Americans “believe” in UFOs.

Read the rest of this entry

“The Vampire Is Always within Us”: My SF Signal interview with Ian Holt

Ian Holt arrives at Spike TV’s “Scream 2010” in Los Angeles

My interview with Dracula-and-vampire expert Ian Holt is now available at SF Signal:The Vampire Is Always within Us: A Conversation with Ian Holt.”

Ian is the man who co-wrote Dracula: The-Undead with Dacre Stoker, Bram Stoker’s great-grandnephew. As you probably already know, the book is the official, Stoker-family-sanctioned sequel to Bram’s classic novel.

Ian’s and my conversation took place shortly before my cyber-sabbatical of January through May, and when I recently transcribed it and readied it for publication, I was reintroduced to just what a treasure trove of interesting thoughts and subjects it really is. We talked about the nature of evil, the question of supernatural reality, the conflicting historical memories of Vlad Dracula that persist in the Eastern and Western European traditions, the Vlad Dracula materials housed in the Vatican archives, Bram Stoker’s lifelong unhappiness, the possible influence of one of his nightmares on the writing of Dracula, Ian’s and Dacre’s motives in changing the Dracula mythos, the divided response among their readers, the relationship of vampires to religion, and the true secret of the vampire’s enduring appeal as a fictional character. Ian is a walking, talking encyclopedia of Dracula and vampire lore, and I think you’ll probably find something of interest in his words. I know I did.